Canyon girls hoops outhustles Golden Valley; Saugus and Valencia win big

Golden Valley's Isabella Ferguson (5) and Jordan Wise (23) fight for a ball at Golden Valley on Tuesday, Dan Watson/The Signal
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Canyon and Golden Valley girls basketball met for the second time this season for another close contest on Tuesday night. The Cowboys were able to come out on top, 50-34, in Golden Valley’s gym.

The last time the two teams met, the Grizzlies were able to take advantage of free-throw opportunities in the fourth quarter and come within seven points of a win. Canyon (17-8 overall, 4-3 in Foothill League) was determined to not let that happen again.

“I thought we started the game great in the first quarter,” said Canyon coach Jessica Haayer. “Second quarter, we got a lot of ‘gimmes’ in the first and then they got a little bit hungry and greedy for those and wanted more of them and those were a little bit reach-ins and fouls and so we got in trouble in that second.”

After a 13-0 run lead to a 17-5 lead by the end of the first quarter, the Cowboys adjusted their defense to a zone and got out of potential foul trouble. Golden Valley was able to close the gap to 27-20, however, by halftime.

Canyon defenders surround Golden Valley’s Aiyniah Pritchett (3) at Golden Valley on Tuesday, Dan Watson/The Signal

Jada Williams scored nine points in the opening half for the Grizzlies (7-13, 1-6) and finished the night with 11 points total.

“We had a strong second quarter, kind of got into our flow a little bit,” said Golden Valley coach Sixx Johnson. “Jada, she’s unbelievable. She gets to the rim and she gets to the free-throw line and she gets us points without the clock running, which is always a good thing.”

Golden Valley’s Imani McGee is working her way back into the flow of things after breaking her nose in a game against Saugus on Jan. 14. She still managed to score 11 points against Canyon.

For the Cowboys, Chidinma Okafor is in her second game back after missing several games due to a family event. On Tuesday night, she had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Golden Valley’s Milan Wright hit a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, but Okafor extended Canyon’s lead to 33-25 with two points in the paint two minutes later. The Grizzlies were able to outscore the Cowboys 10-9 in the frame, but Canyon’s defense turned it on in the fourth. Golden Valley’s only points came on free throws in the final quarter.

Canyon’s Chidinma Okafor (13) shoots against Golden Valley’s Imani McGee (15) at Golden Valley on Tuesday, Dan Watson/The Signal

Canyon freshman Aaliyah Garcia distributed the ball well from the point throughout the evening, assisting on what seemed like every other Cowboys’ basket.

“She probably has the best vision I’ve ever seen out of a kid her size and that young,” Haayer said. “Vision is unreal. She’s going to be very special. She had a lot of good looks.”

Canyon will next play at Hart on Friday at 5 p.m. Golden Valley will host Saugus also on Friday at 5 p.m.

Saugus 67, West Ranch 10

Libbie McMahan and Monique Febles each scored 13 points for the Centurions (20-4, 7-0). Eden Mackenzie scored 10 points and added eight rebounds, while Ruth Kempler logged 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.

West Ranch is 1-14 and 0-7 and plays at Valencia on Friday at 5 p.m.

Valencia 55, Hart 38

Marissa Howell scored three 3-pointers in the first quarter for the Vikings (15-10, 5-2). Valencia coach Kevin Honaker noted that Emily Robbins, Jasmine Glover, Lea Manuel and Leilani Manuel each had “great contributions” and Mailey Ballard “did her job of leading the way.”

The Indians are now 11-10 and 4-3 this season.

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